Climate Change… The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come

Christmas, a time of delight and glee, where you spend time with your loved ones under the Christmas tree. When the holiday lights in shop windows flicker on and the music fills the store, so does the Christmas spirit inside of us. The sight of the first snowflake brings us joy – like seeing our family for our traditional Christmas dinner. Many say that Christmas is the time where you make the nicest memories. People all across the world celebrate Christmas in many shapes and sizes. Many go to Church and pray when Christmas is near, others knock on doors and ask to sing Jingle Bells. Others, buy an advent calendar and open the date every day before going to school. This season is so special that even Mariah Carey has a whole three-minute song about it. The song has had an impressive six hundred and eighty million views since the day it was released. 

But is this Christmas dream still a reality? Maybe, but not for long.

 Christmas is the biggest annual environmental disaster in the world – a secret to many. The holiday season seems to celebrate consumerism more than anything else, which just contributes to the mountain of environmental issues.  Even our Christmas symbol, the joyful Christmas tree, causes us many problems. Every year one hundred and twenty million Christmas trees are cut down to serve in people’s houses. According to multiple studies, in North America, most trees are cut down all at once, compared to the felling of trees during the rest of the year and they are never replaced with replanted trees.  

Everyone buys everyone gifts, food, and decorations, many of which get thrown away as soon as the season ends. According to The Independent’s research, around four million kilograms of Christmas dinner are thrown away every year in the UK, which is equivalent to 263,000 turkeys, 7.5 million mince pies, and 11.3 million roast potatoes. Similarly, research has shown that 25% of Americans throw away their Christmas Eve dinner. It’s also found that 70% of people admitted that they buy extra food ‘just in case they have unexpected visitors. People think that this doesn’t have a big impact but food waste accounts for 6-10% of global warming. The reason food waste has such a negative impact on the environment is that when we throw away food, we also throw away the resources that have already gone into making the food. Some of these resources include energy and water that were used to harvest, transport, and package them. People get the idea that once Christmas ends, so does the use of the things they have bought, which is not the case. The things you buy for Christmas and don’t use, leave a lasting impact on the environment. 

Food is not the only thing being over consumed, energy consumption during Christmas is also much higher. In fact, it is 30% higher compared to the rest of the year. This heavy electrical consumption is driven by all the excessive Christmas lights, starting with the streets, shops, and decorative lights of houses. 

According to the Organization Plastic Oceans, we also use more plastic, more paper when wrapping gifts and then they both just get thrown away. When gifting presents to family and friends around 114,000 tonnes of plastic packaging is thrown away and not recycled in the UK on Christmas. This means it’s burned and emits greenhouse gases. 

All of this leads to an increase in CO2. A study in the U.S. suggests that during the lead-up to Christmas, each person produces an additional 1,400 pounds of CO2 emissions. This doesn’t even include Christmas Day. For context, this is about 3.8% of the average person’s annual carbon footprint. 

Now stepping into the future we really need to think about the way we celebrate Christmas. The overconsumption that makes Christmas “fun” for us now, will make it misery for future generations. The Christmas tradition that we all love will not be possible. After all, when we think about it our world is literally on fire. 

But here’s the Christmas miracle, there are solutions. Plant your own tree, use reusable present bags that you can use every year, use recyclable wrapping, and finally make sure to use all leftovers after Christmas day. Because remember Christmas is just one step that gets us closer to everything we know and love gone. We need to find a way to celebrate our love for such an amazing tradition while not being destructive. Because in the future, when there’s no snow, no trees, and Santa in a swimsuit- we’ll all regret it.  

We need to act now before not only our Christmas is ruined but our world is destroyed. Can we save Christmas? That’s our New Year’s Resolution.